"My arm hurts."
Nell put down her comb and turned to look at her visitor. It was not the first time she had heard this complaint today - nor the second, nor even the third. But the studiedly woeful face clearly still expected some kind of response.
"Mm. Better go and see if Matey can give you something for it." With which flippant suggestion, she turned back and began plaiting her hair for bed, continuing to watch her friend in the mirror as she did so. It was not a serious suggestion, of course - the only outcome of troubling Matey now would be an unpleasant-tasting soporific and they both knew it - but she had already made full use of her vocabulary of sympathetic noises which didn't, in her opinion, make for very interesting conversation.
It had not been the desired response. Con scowled, her own brand of agreeable petulance. "I rather think you might sound a bit more sympathetic. It hurts. It's still swollen all over. You ought to indulge me."
"Well, what were you expecting? Omelette aux fines herbes?" Nell grinned at the indignant patient.
"It wouldn't have gone amiss." Con grumbled. "I notice you've never cooked for me, in spite of your grand talk about the virtues of domesticity. Now remind me, what was it - 'if god doesn't give a woman a husband to cook and clean for, she should help other women instead'? All hot air and empty promises, you are, my girl."
Nell stifled a laugh. "You know I didn't exactly mean 'other women' like that. Well, I hope you know that. More to the point I hope Grace and the girls know that -"
"It couldn't possibly have occurred to them to think otherwise." Con cut in quickly, wanting to stave off the note of sudden panic in her friend's voice. "And in any case, I think they're all rather more distracted by wondering if you - you! - could really have meant all of that politically fashionable nonsense. Honestly. 'Woman deforms her nature?' You turncoat. No, it's definitely only me wondering who you're dutifully cooking and cleaning for, in your unfortunate absence of a husband. Given it's certainly not for me," and she shot another injured look at Nell in the mirror.
Nell tied her hair and turned her full attention on her visitor. Her eyes twinkled. "My dear, you sound almost jealous. Well, I can't, can I. Product of my education and all that. I do so detest these schools, turning out girls who can construe Horace but not bathe a baby..."
Con paused to contemplate this for a moment. "Hmm. That's a pity. I daresay I'd better take up with Karen instead," she said thoughtfully, keeping her features carefully controlled.
Nell snorted. "Is that your innocent face? I'm sorry, I hadn't realised you kept fetching up in my room after lights out because you wanted me to cook for you. How disappointed you must have been!"
Con flashed her a smile, that smile, that familiar, beguiling, heart-stopping smile of Con's, hitting her in the stomach and promising that nothing else in the world outside of the room could ever matter half as much as the two contained within. "Oh, you'll do," she agreed simply, as she leant back against Nell's pillow.